Richard Linklater: Writer and Director

13th Annual Movies for Grownups Awards Gala - Arrivals

For this week’s spotlight piece, I wanted to take a look at a bit of an indie A-lister, though far from an unknown. It’s filmmaker Richard Linklater, a writer and director who has managed to consistently do things in a unique way and bring audiences along with him at the same time. As heralded as he already is (especially this week with Boyhood hitting theaters), he still sometimes seems underrated to me. For a man with a pair of Oscar nominations, he still manages to work decidedly outside of the box and still cultivate an audience. Even his studio outings have been memorable. Frankly, Linklater is one of a kind.

Linklater has always done things his way, from his fly on the wall debut Slacker to Dazed and Confused to the Before trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight). Throw in Boyhood and you have five near classics from one filmmaker, and that doesn’t take into account the almost dozen other movies that he’s made over the years. He’s done everything from animated flicks (A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life) to studio comedies (Bad News Bears and School of Rock), with plenty of interesting work in between.

If you take a close look at his oeuvre, he’s done very compelling things with even his less regarded work. From Bernie (which I find to be incredibly underrated) to Fast Food Nation to Tape, with plenty of others in between, Linklater has managed to take whatever premise he’s working with and do things in such a simple yet unique way that sometimes it’s not until the flick ends that you realize just how special his work is. The two Adapted Screenplay nominations he has for Before Sunset and Before Midnight are nice bits of recognition, but he really needs to get a Best Director nod under his belt soon, not to mention a nom for Best Picture.

This weekend, Boyhood begins its national roll out and it’s among the best films of the year so far. Tomorrow I’ll be talking about it as an awards contender, but what Linklater did with that movie is downright amazing. Filming a coming of age story with the same cast over a dozen years captured some real truth that’s almost impossible to get otherwise. It’s a work of art, plain and simple. Again, I’ll get into its Oscar prospects in my What’s Up with the Awards Race piece tomorrow, but I just wanted to hammer it home that it’s incredible. Easily one of his three to five best works (alongside the Before trilogy as well as Dazed and Confused), at least in my eyes.

Overall, Linklater is a supremely unique talent that will one day become an Oscar winner. Mark my words there. There’s a small chance that something could happen this year for Boyhood, but in all likelihood it won’t be until later on in his still youngish and yet clearly veteran career that Linklater is cited. Once that day arrives, a larger group will get to appreciate him, but for now, we can all use this week to pay a bit of tribute to his talents…

Stay tuned for another look at an A-lister next week!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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